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Hazlehurst sweeps Wesson 57-28 and 71-59

It was the Hazlehurst Indians who took a late season sweep of the Wesson Cobras on Saturday afternoon in Wesson. Playing a rather late season non-district game for both schools, the Lady Indians crushed the Lady Cobras 57-28, while the Indians held off Wesson 71-59 in the boy’s game.

In the girls’ game, the Lady Cobras were overmatched by a larger, older Lady Indians team. Hazlehurst built a 17-0 lead before Wesson scored their first point. The Lady Indians led 19-2 after the first quarter.

Wesson had no answer for Hazlehurst junior center Asia Madison. When Madison wasn’t blocking shots or grabbing rebounds on the defensive end, she was bullying her way to the basket or dropping assists on the offensive end. At 6-foot-2, Madison was by far the biggest player on the court.

Hazlehurst coach TeAirra Wilbert-Menzie doesn’t restrict her tallest player to the post, though. She allows Madison to handle the ball and draw the defense to her away from the basket. Wilbert-Menzie is in her first year of leading her alma mater and feels like she’s seen her team grow as the season has -progressed.

“We’re 1-0 in district with a win over Wilkinson and the girls have been doing everything I’ve asked of them. I couldn’t be more pleased with their effort,” said Wilbert-Menzie.

Wilbert-Menize was a track and basketball standout at Hazlehurst before moving on to Co-Lin, where she played for Lady Wolves basketball coach Gwyn Young, starting every game at point guard for a 26-4 Co-Lin team in 2008-2009.

Madison says that her coach is just as competitive now as she was as a player.

“She demands the best of us every day and she really pushes us to be better,” Madison said. “When we make mistakes in practice we run as punishment and then we don’t want to make those mistakes again.”

Hazlehurst led 33-9 at halftime, but Wesson was able to outscore their opponents 10-8 in the final period. Destini Jones led Wesson with 10 points. Hazlehurst was led offensively by 15 points from Zyna White and 12 points from Madison.

The boys’ game was closer than the final score indicated, with Hazlehurst getting a few easy baskets late that padded their lead. With two teams that both like to press the ball in the full court, the pace was fast from the opening tip.

In the first half the game looked like a track meet at its best and a 10-car pileup at Talladega at its worst. Wesson led 16-11 after the first quarter, but not without suffering the loss of their second leading scorer. Junior guard JD Allen picked up three fouls in the first six minutes of action and would be forced to watch the remainder of the first half from the bench. Allen wouldn’t be the only player confined to the bench by fouls, as the two teams combined for a whopping 49 fouls.

Hazlehurst took the lead in the second quarter and led 28-25 at halftime. The third quarter would be the undoing of the Cobras, as Hazlehurst found too many easy buckets in transition against the Wesson press.

The Indians led 44-38 heading into the final period, but in less than two minutes Wesson had trimmed the lead to 44-42. Hazlehurst slowed down the pace after the game tightened and got two huge three-pointers from senior guard Cameron Alexander to extend their lead back out to double digits, a distance they would for the remainder of the game.

Wesson was coming off a heartbreaking 76-74 overtime loss to Columbia from the night before. Wesson coach Rusty Newman felt his team didn’t execute in key stretches when the Indians were able to take control of the game.

“The foul trouble hurt us and we had some guys playing out of position. I think we lost our focus during a couple spurts and they took advantage,” said Newman.

Junior guard Shemar Dickerson agreed with his coach’s assessment of where the Cobras went wrong.

“We stopped playing our tempo and that hurt us the most,” he said.

Wesson also lost starting forward Kenner Bizot to an ankle sprain in the third period. Dickerson led Wesson with 15 points and Hazlehurst got a game-high 30 points — including five three-pointers — from Alexander.

Wesson travels to Bassfield today to resume region play against Jefferson Davis County. Hazlehurst also resumes district play today with a trip to Jefferson County.